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    "I went in a carefree boy, I came out bitter toward everything in general."

    John Dillinger Autograph Letter Signed "Johnnie" to his Father from Prison in Lima, Ohio. Written in pencil on two 5" x 7.75" pages of a plain four page foldover lettersheet, this letter starts on the last page (four) (written horizontally) and continues on page three inside (written vertically), September 29, 1933, no place [Lima prison], to his father, John W. Dillinger. In this letter, Dillinger states how his first conviction and extended imprisonment had caused him to turn bitter against society, a fact he knows is a disappointment to his father. He asks about his two sisters and implores his family not to believe all the newspaper reports about him, stating that he had never hurt anyone. The remorseful tone of the letter was possibly, in part, because he knew the letter would be read by those in charge of his immediate fate. This reminder of the lengthy sentence Dillinger received from the judge for a minor crime must have saddened his father; it was he who advised his son to confess and plead guilty, leading to the surprisingly harsh punishment by the judge. The letter reads as follows (exactly as written), in full:

    Sept. 29, 33.

    Dear Dad,
    Hope this letter finds you well and not worrying too much over me. Maybe I'll learn someday Dad that you cant win in this game. I know I have been a big disappointment to you but I guess I did to much time for where I went in a carefree boy I came out bitter toward everything in general. Of course Dad most of the blame lies with me for my environment was of the best but if I had gotten off more leniently
    [page two]
    when I made my first mistake this never would have happened. How is Doris and Frances? I preferred to stand trial here in Lima because there isn't as much predjudice against me here and I am sure I will get a square deal here. Dad dont believe all that the newspapers say about me for I am not guilty of half the things I'm charged with and Ive never hurt anyone. Well Dad I guess this is all for this time just wanted you to know I am well and treated fine.
    From Johnnie

    September 29, 1933, was exactly one week after he was arrested in Dayton, Ohio and charged with the robbery of a bank in Bluffton. On September 27, he had pleaded guilty to the Bluffton job and was remanded to the Allen County jail in Lima where he wrote this letter. In the four short months since he had been freed from prison for his early indiscretion, Dillinger had already robbed numerous banks in multiple states. He knew that prison wouldn't hold him much longer and he was already formulating specific plans for the continuation of his crime spree. Sadly, he never learned that he couldn't win in that game.

    This letter is transcribed on page 98 of John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal by Dary Matera (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004). It is in very good condition with three horizontal folds and general toning, weak at center fold.

    For more information on the history of this Dillinger lot, please click here.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2009
    12th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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